Cannabis beverage challenge: Can cannabis beverages overcome the tobaccoization of cannabis?

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Although infused beverages have been predicted to shake things up in the legal market, Canada’s cannabis companies are experiencing yet another regulatory bottleneck. Challenged to create brand identity in the flower market, the promise of many big cannabis companies resides in the ability of their cannabis beverages (HEXO with TRUSS, Canopy with Tweed and Houseplant, Tilray with Fluent, and Aphria with SweetWater Brewing, etc.) to win over the non-cannabis consumer. For this to happen, cannabis beverage companies must escape the ‘tobaccoization’ of cannabis. Emulsion 101: The science behind drinkable weed Cannabis industry needs to step up as Canada prepares to review the effects of legalization Canadian government gets ‘C’ average in the legalization report card Canada’s rules governing cannabis advertising and branding are based on governments’ regulation of the tobacco industry and tobacco advertising. I first encountered the ‘tobaccoization’ of cannabis in the fall of 2017. Working for a Quebec-based licensed producer, I was informed that health department officials tasked with creating Quebec’s cannabis law would not engage with the cannabis industry. Cannabis was like tobacco and Santé Québec did not talk to tobacco companies. The “tobacco is cannabis” approach was not limited to the province of Quebec. Faced with the challenge of regulating cannabis advertising, branding, and retailing, our governments, both federal and provincial, dusted off their tobacco rules and used the “Find” and “Replace” functions to create the regulatory framework for adult-use cannabis. Ontario’s response to cannabis was no different — look at the Smoke Free Ontario Act. The ‘tobaccoization’ of cannabis poses significant challenges for cannabis beverages. If any cannabis product is going to connect with the non-cannabis consumer, it will be cannabis beverages. Beverages do not have the stigma or health baggage associated with smoking and vaping (e.g. smoking causes cancer, chronic smoking of high THC…

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